Biography of Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Poet, Narrator, essayist and art critic French, born in Rome on August 26, 1880, and died in Paris on November 9, 1918. Registered in the civil registry as Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky it francized name as Guillaume Apollinaire, which has become the history of universal literature as one of the poets most lucid, bold and innovative of all time. In its constant drive for innovation and experimentation, was precursor of some avant-garde currents so fecund as surrealism and Cubism, incorporated new ideas aesthetics - from other civilizations, as that of black Africa - Western art, and spread all over the world a sort of lyrical ideograms - baptized by him as Calligrammes - in which the typographical arrangement of the verses that make up the poem takes the form of the figure named in its title or in its content. Despite its brief existence - he died, victim of a deadly flu epidemic, when still missing two years to reach the age forty, with his literary work and his aesthetic postulates exerted a powerful influence on other artists, and thanks to its fruitful creative breath - iconoclast-at the same time and respectful of the great contributions of the past, vivificó contemporary poetry and paintingproviding them with new thematic and expressive registers and a naive primitive lyricism that provided both creative disciplines a force rarely known in the history of world art.

Life and work

The cultural syncretism that is hidden behind its origins was, without a doubt, the starting point of that amazing ability then developed by Apollinaire for the incessant search for new ways of artistic expression. Illegitimate son of an Italian who had served in the Bourbon army, and a Russian citizen belonging to a noble family of the Austrian Poland (specifically, the castle of Wawel in Krakow), in your birth certificate only was registered the surname of his mother, who professed the Catholic religion, and was the granddaughter of a famous Polish general - military history which may perhaps explain the enthusiasm of the poet before the outbreak of the first world warwhich took an active part and fell wounded of extreme gravity. After having received the waters of baptism in the Basilica of San Pedro, spent his childhood beside his mother, in a constant pilgrimage that you led him to reside, during these early years of his life in Rome, Monaco, nice, Cannes and Lyon.

They circulated numerous legends fueled by fantasy and extravagance of the poet himself, who, in his stage of literary splendour, was pleased to spread rumors that made him come from a senior Vatican official, a cardinal of the Roman curia and, even, the footballer Pope about the identity of his father. According to the most credible voices, the father of the poet was a such Constantine or Francesco Flugi D'aspremont, Member of a Swiss family in the upper echelons of the Vatican, who at the age of forty-four had been "kidnapped" Angelica Alejandrina de Kostrowitzky, daughter of Miguel Appollinaris de Kostrowitzky, Honorary Chamberlain of the Pope. This high office held by his maternal grandfather explains that the fruit of "illicit" relations of Angélica Alejandrina - registered, despite everything, in the city of Rome by a midwife, as his parents wished to maintain the anonymity-out cristianado in the Basilica of San Pedro, despite its dark origins. Angélica Alejandrina, which was already well known in Rome for his adventurous spirit and libertine (at age 16 had been expelled from a religious school for his licentious behavior), gave birth to the future poet at the age of twenty-two, time that father of the newly born him folding age. Two years later, she was mother of another begotten son, also, by an "unknown father", and got out to the small Guillaume and Albert thanks to gifts and donations which made him his full Court of admirers, augmented by the benefits it obtained from its incorrigible inclination to play. It was this passion for the world of betting which led her to some famous cities of southern Europe by their casinos, as Monaco, nice and Cannes, the first of which had to leave abruptly due to the numerous gambling debts that had shrunk.

The future poet had begun his formal education under the tutelage of teachers from the prestigious College of San Carlos, a religious center where the young Guillaume and his younger brother Albert made first communion and received confirmation in the Monegasque capital - French protectorate since 1860-. Imbued with, at the time of accused Catholic sentiment which, in the view of his most authoritative biographers, had more to do with the emotion of the lyric of the Christian spirituality than with authentic religious fervor, Apollinaire toured ceaselessly churches and chapels, demonstrating a firm belief that, years later, continued ostentatiously displaying (used to adorn your chest with numerous medals and necklaces) to those opening track originally a Jewish ancestry, in order to discredit him at a time in which anti-Semitism stretched rapidly through Europe. In terms strictly literary production, this severe religious education left an undeniable grounds of mysticism in his poems and stories, as well as a clear tendency to the discussion of ideas and concepts of the theological debate.

Secondary formation of Guillaume Apollinaire, completed in different high schools in Nice and Cannes, helped consolidate his innate literary vocation and oriented his studies towards the reading of many and varied works, from the most different epochs and cultures, they provided that vast erudition - well is true that somewhat anarchic and chaotic - reflected in his writings. It only had thirteen years of age when he wrote his first poems, signed with his real name (Wilhelm Kostrowitzky) or the bizarre pseudonym of macabre Guillermo, and designed under the notorious influence of the poetry of Rimbaud (1854-1891), whose passion for the image would remain constant in the work of maturity of Apollinaire.

After an adolescence and early youth marked by geographic displacement next to his mother and his younger brother, arrived in 1898 in Paris, where Angelica Alejandrina de Kostrowitzky met Jules Weil, a young banker who would accompany her during the rest of his days. In Paris, Guillaume Apollinaire was subsisting for a few years thanks to the writing of booklets which were published under the name of other authors. While it was these 'black' work, continued expanding its already extensive literary training with - in his own words - "immense readings", at the time that complemented their remaining income teaching as a private tutor. Among his pupils was Gabrielle de Milhau, daughter of the viscountess widow of Milhau, a powerful landowner of Rhineland which invited the young writer to move with his family to his dominions in Germany. This is how, in 1902, Apollinaire met in the castle of the viscountess Annie Playden, a beautiful English girl's blue eyes that had Gabrielle Milhau Aya. Madly in love with her, he proposed marriage, and before the rejection of the young woman, threatened to hurl it from the Summit of the Drachenfels (where, according to legend, Sigfrido had finished with the dragon). The young nurse, terrified, accepted the marriage proposal of Apollinaire, but retracted as soon as they had come to the foot of the mountain; shortly thereafter, he left the castle of the viscountess and returned to his family in London home, while the poet undertook a long tour of Wallonia, Bavaria and other Central European regions. Concerns travellers and their desire to continue to expand cultural and vital horizons allowed him to forget for a while the rejection of Annie, immersed in an eventful pilgrimage conditioned only by the shortage of economic resources (years later, in recounting the adventures lived during this dissipated and Bohemian part of his life, Apollinaire exaggerating past calamities claiming that he had made to foot all their travel(, and who, during his stay in Prague, survived several days rationing a small Camembert cheese consumption). On his return to Paris, he realized that he was still in love with the young English and visited London on two occasions (1903 and 1904), which returned to renew their marriage proposal and, before the stubborn reluctance of Annie Playden, their death threats. Ten days after the second visit of Apollinaire, the young man fled to the United States of America, where had sought a job to get rid of the harassment of the poet, who did not return to see her anymore. His despair was embodied in pathetic verses of unrequited love.

In 1904, Apollinaire was installed back in the family mansion of Vésinet, a small nucleus of luxury residential villas, located about ten kilometers from Paris. Whatever who spent most of his time in the big city, tired of always losing the night train which had to return to your home settled definitely in the city of the Seine, where soon joined full - merced, in good measure, one of the traits of his personality that most stressed people who knew him: sympathy - in the main artistic and intellectual circles of the French capital. In Vésinet had befriended with the Maurices Vlaminck (1876-1958) and André Derain (1880-1954), painters shared Studio and had created the so-called "School of Chatou". It emerged from long discussions with both artists - who were expelled in 1905 of the "autumn Salon" of Paris, and baptized with the derogatory name of fauves ("beasts"), which then resulted in the label of fauvisme ("Fauvism" or "Fauvism")-, Apollinaire desire to devote to the study, dissemination and defence of modern painting.

Meanwhile, eked out a living in Paris as an employee of a Bank, where he spent ten hours a day devoted to accounting. Although their knowledge on this subject were practically null, he pretended to be a competent "financial" - name that, with great satisfaction for him, his friends — gave and presumed all their relatives in relation to any securities or banking operations to advise wisely. Simultaneously, collaborating regularly in different Rotary and magazines specialized in the world of finance, as the guide of the rentier - founded by the Bank to which he belonged - or the stock market newspaper information, and came to interview in person to the Grand Treasurer of the Sultan of Morocco during a tour of this senior official to Paris. As a memento of this work so alien to his sensitivity of poet, was left - among his multiple and Pilgrim antics - mania price beautiful doors of all the great mansions he visited.

But his grandiose competent "financial" status and its irreducible inclination to nightlife and disorderly - apparently was a voracious dining, a stubborn drinker and a heavy smoker, and boasted of recovering from the ravages of a night of revelry and drunkenness with a NAP of 15 minutes - not prevented you deploy, in those early years of the 20th centuryan intense cultural activity, reflected in the founding of several publications that already announced the rebel spirit, restless, disruptive and innovative of the avant-garde. In October 1906, in collaboration with his former teammate of baccalaureate Toussaint-Luca, he founded in Paris the magazine the feast of Aesop, which only went on sale nine numbers; shortly thereafter, he launched a new cultural publication, the magazine immoralist, whose header was transformed, in his second and last exit to the street, the modern lyrics. Despite his short career, in this medium the first poems of some relevant authors saw the light then in the history of the avant-garde movement such as Max Jacob (1876-1944). Since then, Apollinaire maintained a fruitful collaboration in French, as the Social democracy - in the section "France judged abroad" signed their articles with the pseudonym of the polyglot, clearly exaggerated, because only dominated the French and Italian, though he had some knowledge of latin, German, Provençal and walon - different newspapers and magazines; Verse and prose - where he held the position of Secretary of editorial-; Allowances - where, under the pseudonym Louise Lalanne, signed poems and articles of artistic and literary criticism-; The Phalanx - in February of 1908 number published his famous poem in prose "Onirocrítica", who was ahead in three decades to the postulated aesthetic formulated by the surrealist movement-; and Mercurio of France - where he held a fixed column titled "The anecdotal life".

Meanwhile, had found a new reef to supplement its always reduced income: pornographic literature. In 1901 he had won one hundred francs with a rugged novelita which soon fell into oblivion; six years later, beset by debts, he regained his youth inspiration libertine and wrote two authentic masterpieces of the genre: Les onze mille verges (the eleven thousand rods, 1907), a true catalog of excesses and sexual deprivation, since the sadism to masochism, through torture, humiliation and the pursuit of pleasure in the murder; and Les exploits d' a jeune Don Juan (the exploits of a young Don Juan, 1907). The clandestine editions of these two short stories - signed only with the initial"g."-they earned its author a well-deserved prestige among readers and regular editors of the sicalíptico genus; and such a high reputation reached in this matter, that in 1909 he was hired by a Publisher seal so it directed a collection of classic erotic which, under the title of "Les Maîtres de L'Amour" ("the masters of love"), published some works flagship licentious literature of all time, thoroughly analyzed and scored. The editions of the works of Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) and, above all, the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), writer - the latter - which Apollinaire rescued from oblivion and placed among the most influential figures of contemporary literature, thanks to the splendid introductory study that the author of the eleven thousand rods put in charge of the edition of his works were much praised.

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Fifty poems which comprise Alcools were very different between the readers and the critics opinions. Among the supporters of the radical renewal of artistic expression, the collection of poems by Apollinaire was greeted with joy, while the chronological breadth of writing poems (1898-1913) gave place to certain formal and thematic elements of the neo-romanticism (thus, e.g., in the poem "Le pont Mirabeau") and other more novel aesthetic models, but already in process of overcoming by the avant-garde (as symbolism). However, there were many critics who showed their rejection of the heterogeneous nature of the poems, including Georges Duhamel - which published their reviews in Le Mercure de France, magazine in which Apollinaire hoped that it is eulogy openly, in its pages he printed numerous poems-, who compared the volume of verses with "a secondhand shop". In any case, the fact is that some of the poems more disconcerting and innovators of Alcools (such as the graduates 'zone' or "The emigrant's Lander Road") caused a profound shock for his bold aesthetic: fragmentary speech next to the painting techniques of cubism, absence of punctuation, accumulation of heterogeneous materials from daily life, repetition of ideas and highly provocative expressions, etc.

True, at all times, this quirky and Bohemian spirit that already had made him famous in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, Apollinaire was about to challenge to a duel to the quoted Duhamel (who, paradoxically, would end up becoming one of the top supporters of his poetry). Soon after, a new controversy encouraged to rely again on the field of honour: Mr. Fabian Lloyd, an English citizen who signed his articles under the pseudonym 'Arthur Cravan', published a review about the exhibition of painters in which stated that Apollinaire was a Jew. A violent wave of anti-Semitism were flogged, then, throughout Europe, and in a way very pointed to France, still shocked by the political and social consequences of the Dreyfus affair; Hence, the poet born in Rome, baptized in San Pedro, educated at prestigious centers of religious and obsessed, in his childhood and adolescence, by the depth of Catholic spirituality, would be seriously offended by the review of Lloyd, who came to send to their sponsors, the Narrator Tharaud (1874-1953) and the painter Claude Chéreau. Fortunately, the negotiations of these obtained a rectification of Lloyd who met the aggrieved Apollinaire, so duel did not take place.

By that time, Apollinaire ran - collaboratively don Jean Cerusse - cultural magazine the soirées de Paris, founded in 1912 by Andrés Billy, René Dupuy and Andrés Tudesq, and acquired by the author of the eleven thousand rods, upon payment of 200 francs, after the publication of its second issue. Under the direction of Apollinaire - that it became "her" magazine-Paris nights came to offer his exemplary number twenty-three, dated April 15, 1914, when already all over Europe was preparing for an impending international military conflagration. Apollinaire, prisoner of as sincere as fanciful and childish enthusiasm, received with joy the outbreak of the first world war and provided everything you need to engage in combat. In his foreign status, it was not required to join defense armada of France; However, he requested nationality French and, despite its already-alarming obesity - fruit of his abundant appetite - he tried to enlist in the army of his adopted country, where he was initially rejected since he was already thirty-four years of age. At his insistence by going to the front, it was finally mobilized and aimed at a unit of artillery in a field of instruction close to Nîmes, where, thanks to its nature open and extravertido, soon won the sympathies of all recruits. Studied, in this destination, aimed at obtaining the degree of non-commissioned officer of artillery, and was soon appointed Sergeant brigadier; promoted, in April 1915, sergeant major, he was sent to the second line of trenches, with great regret on his part, because he wanted to enter combat as soon as possible. To entertain themselves during this period of inaction, released in mid-1915 twenty-five copies of a short collection of poems, published under the title of armones box, then went to join his masterpiece within the poetic genre, Calligrammes (1918). With the help of two sergeants of artillery which made the times's printers, Apollinaire stamped in violet ink handcrafted copies of this reduced circulation, which were sold to twenty francs; benefits were intended for the relief of the wounded in war.

Desperate to not be able to find in first line of battle, swapped his post with another non-commissioned officer and joined the infantry, where the opportunity to ascend was greater, due to the increased risks. He thus attained the rank of Lieutenant and his subsequent decoration with the Croix de Guerre for bravery that had been accredited to the armed struggle. On March 17, 1916, while reading a copy of mercury in a trench near Verdun, a fragment of shell pierced his military helmet and embedded in his skull. According to his own statements, he continued reading as if nothing had happened, until she saw how the blood that flowed from his head dyed red the page in which it was engaged. Urgently transferred to Paris, he was admitted at the hospital of war established the Molière Villa - in the suburb of Auteuil where had resided the poet- and had to undergo a Burr that forced him to save a long period of convalescence. During this prolonged recovery, he received in the hospital to his friends with head bandages, dressed in his uniform of the 6th company of the 96 th infantry regiment, which had ignited with pride the Cruz de Guerra; I used to show visitors their hull pierced by shrapnel, and joke about their happy way through the trenches, but the truth is that his character cheerful and quirky - sometimes, certainly child - had given way to a sediment of bitterness that pushed him to show suspicious and irascible.

With the intention of not be again sent to Nîmes, where inactivity was overwhelming him, he requested a bureaucratic position in the Paris military censorship, and was responsible for reading small magazines, as well as the French translation of some English newspaper articles which, after its approval, were then published in Paris-noon Rotary. In addition, collaborated assiduously in the colonial information bulletin and prisoner of a feverish activity which could well be the fruit of the intuition of your next weekend, toiled in the conclusion of several works that wanted to give to the press before his death. Despite the lethargy, dizziness and vomiting and paralysis of his left hand that left as sequels of trepanation, and had required a second surgical intervention in the cranial vault, and deformed obesity acquired over so prolonged bed rest, the poet had encouragement to engage with a beautiful young call Jacqueline Kolbon May 2, 1918, which contracted marriage with Pablo Picasso as a witness. But serious complaints, compounded with several chronic attacks of emphysema, not enabled him to enjoy much of this late marital link. At the beginning of November of that same year, a virulent epidemic of influenza was primed on their fragile health and ended his life when he was only thirty-eight years of age. Six months later - in may 1819, died in Paris Angelica Kostrowitzky Alejandrina, and at the end of a month lost the life in Mexico, victims of typhus, Albert de Kostrowitzky, the younger brother of the poet.

As an anecdotal, echoing a curious detail as proof of reliably to Apollinaire, in his private life, was not as given to experimentation as in his role as creator. Apparently, the French poet of Swiss origin, Frédéric Louis Sauser Halle (1887-1961), better known by her literary pseudonym of Blaise Cendrars, was in possession of the so-called "oil of Harlem", an old remedy of traditional medicine which showed its therapeutic effectiveness during the deadly flu epidemic that led to Apollinaire. Paradoxically, the author of Calligrammes had praised this medicine in its journalistic section "Anecdotal life", but refused to take it during his illness. Blaise Cendrars, with its "oil of Harlem", saved the lives of more than seventy friends seriously affected by the flu, but saw how died acquaintances two his who distrusted the effectiveness of the remedy; one of them was Guillaume Apollinaire.

In its last years of existence, Apollinaire gave to press some of his older, as the volume of prose fiction titled works Le poète assassiné (the assassinated poet, 1916), presurrealista drama Les Les mamelles de Tirésias (the breasts of Tiresias, 1917) and the collection of poems Calligrammes (Calligrammes, 1918), work - the latter - that has gone down in history of universal literature. The poet of killed includes the eponymous novelita and fifteen stories of the same tone that those who make up the Heresiarch and Cia, written between 1910 and 1916. It was in the press when exploded the first world war, which caused the delay of their departure to the street and allowed Apollinaire to introduce, at the last minute, a story he had written after undergo trepanation. In the short novel that opens the volume, the reader attends an international conspiracy to exterminate all the poets of the world, which makes exclaim its protagonist Croniamental - alter ego of the own Apollinaire-when the mob is about to kill him: "your hero, people, is the boredom, that it brings to despair".

Presurrealista drama the breasts of Tiresias (premiered on June 24, 1917) is considered as the pioneer of avant-garde theatre. By using a caustic and humorous point of view to address some issues of notable seriousness (as the emancipation of women and the decline in the birth rate), Apollinaire presents on stage a sex change that, despite its symbolic formulation - the protagonist, Teresa, becomes Tirésias when it detonates two balloons carrying under her blouse-caused a real scandal during the first performances of the work. In the preface that precedes the edition of this play (1918), Apollinaire coined the term surrealism, which in his opinion was more appropriate and easy to handle than surnaturalisme, "already used by philosophers Lords".

Only Nineteen eighty six poems that make up the volume Calligrammes (1918), have that peculiar structure that would make universally famous Apollinaire, consisting in the use of a creative typographic layout of verses depicting the figure of the central object of the poem. But, aside from this bold exploitation of figurative possibilities of verbal signs in written language, Calligrammes also offers other avant-garde innovations of marked originality, as the "poeme-conversation" - in which, through the chaotic juxtaposition of fragments of dialogue, Apollinaire attempts to erase the boundaries between prose and poetry, and played on a literary text the many facets of everyday life and real. With this work - illustrated, in its first edition, with a portrait of the poet painted by Picasso, Apollinaire definitely showed his ability to build bridges between tradition and the new formal channels seeking desperately to the forefront: for their long hours of study and research at the National Library of Paris - where, among other many sections, it had explored relentlessly famous 'hell'i.e. the shelf where those classics of erotic and pornographic literature that with so much I care is adunaban edited, and which drew a huge advantage for their own licentious works-, Apollinaire had had opportunity to read and analyze the concoctions of Tabourot des Accords, in its two editions of 1582 and 1662. This curious collection of poems as original as ingenious (misunderstandings, riddles, acrostics, etc.), the future author of Calligrammes stayed with the possibility of putting the signifiers in the service of the meanings, idea that then he was developing in their long cuartelero leisure time, enriching it with their knowledge of the Visual Arts.

Aside from the mentioned major works in above paragraphs, Apollinaire was the author of other texts in verse and prose which deserve a mention within this bio-bibliographical review. Vitam Impendere Amori (1917), in its reduced circulation of two hundred fifteen copies, contains poems of the extravagant writer born in Rome, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by André Rouveyre. For its part, the passer-by from the two banks (1918) is a collection of ten Chronicles on various aspects of Parisian life, sieved by the personal recollections of the author. Most of these writings had already seen the light in the pages of el Mercurio of France, within the "Anecdotal life" section. Other texts of Apollinaire printed this section, along with the many anecdotes that had accumulated during a brief war permit that he enjoyed in Oran (Algeria), were collected in the volume where it appeared his unfinished novel seated woman and a long fragment of another narration to medium do, focusing on the life of the Mormons. These unpublished fragmentary saw the light, posthumously, in 1920, as also appeared in posthumous editions of other works that Apollinaire had yet to give to the printer, including its parts theatrical Casanova and colors of the time - this last, published in la Nouvelle Revue Française in 1920-, and his book Il and... (Ago, 1925), which collects the first factual texts of Apollinaire, surprising by its classical and traditional invoice. At the end of the Decade of the 1920s, nearly all the articles that had been published in el Mercurio of France saw the light under the title of Anecdoticas (1928).

Work within a volume entitled libertine of the poets of the 19th century, Apollinaire inserted some own poems disguised under the pseudonyms of Germain Amplecas and the Abbot of Theleme. In addition, in his role as researcher of classical literature published, within the collection "Library of the curious", various works of the Marquis de Sade, Baffo, Andrea de Nerciat, John Cleland, Pierre Corneille, etc., accompanied by brilliant introductory studies and, in some cases, translated by himself. In collaboration with Fleuret and Perceau, published in 1912 the catalog said of the books of the "infierno" of the National Library of Paris, obligatory reference work to the student of erotic literature. His erudition and his penetrating critical acuity shone high in some of these issues, mainly in the one published by el Mercurio in France under the title of the most beautiful pages of Aretino. In his critical condition, feel very satisfied of the splendid foreword he had written for the edition of the flowers of evil, of Baudelaire (1821-1867).

Not belong, instead, to Apollinaire works titled the end of Babylon (1913) and the three don Juan (1914), published under his name but actually written by his friend and schoolmate René Dupuy (or René Dalize,) according to his literary pseudonym.